The Polygone Scientifique

The Polygone Scientifique is Grenoble's northernmost district and occupies the peninsula formed by the merging of the Isère and Drac rivers. Research centers are packed onto the peninsula which spans 250 hectars.

The zone historically served as a stocking ground for munitions called le polygone d'artillerie. The current name, Polygone Scientifique, comes from this original appellation. In 1967, the French and German governments decided to establish the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) on the site and the polygon was on its way to becoming Grenoble's own Silicon Valley.

Along with the ILL's nuclear research reactor, the Polygone Scientifique boils over with scientific alphabet soup. The CEA (Atomic Energy Commissariat), CNRS (National center for scientific research), ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility), and EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) all occupy the area.

The Polygone Scientifique's most recent addition is the Minatec, Europe's first nanotechnology research center. Its construction in 2006 ignited local and national controversy fanned by opponents who feel that nanotechnology represents a threat for the environment and for personal freedom. They even painted "No Nanos" in huge white letters on the wall of the Bastille and every now and then you will run across "No Nanos" tags around Grenoble.

Today, 10,000 people from all over the world work in the centers of the Polygone Scientifique, which makes Grenoble France's largest research city outside of Paris. Since there aren't any attractions in this neighborhood, why not get a bird's eye view of it from the northwest side of the Bastille? It's the best way to appreciate the Polygone's ring-shaped Synchrotron and just to get a glimpse of what the area looks like.
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